A veteran Indian analyst yesterday speculated that the LTTE may have launched Sunday air intrusion to avenge an SLAF attack on a gathering of LTTE personnel including leaders.
B. Raman, a retired additional secretary, Cabinet Secretariat and a director at the Chennai-based Institute for Topical Studies said that it would appear that as the people in the LTTE-controlled areas, including many leaders of the LTTE, were watching the ICC World Cup Final between Australia and Sri Lanka, the SLAF mounted a night air strike at one of the points outside Kilinochi where the Sri Lankan intelligence expected some of the LTTE leaders to be watching the cricket match.
The following is the full text of his article headlined LTTE Airforce bombs Colombo fuel tanks: An aircraft of the Tamileelam Air Force (TAF) of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) bombed a Sri Lankan military fuel storage tank at Kolonnawa near Colombo at 1-50 AM on April 29,2007. Another plane of the TAF bombed another military fuel storage tank at Muththuraajawala near Colombo 15 minutes later. The LTTE has projected the two attacks as carried out by two `squadrons` of the TAF, but independent reports say that only two planes were involved in the two bombings. The planes managed to carry out the bombings and return to base without being brought down by ground fire and without being intercepted in air.
2. The bombings show once again the skills acquired by the TAF pilots in night operations. According to a South-East Asia based strategic analyst, it would seem to have acquired the planes and the skills through a South African flying club. The detailed comments of the analyst on the operations of the TAF are available at http://www.saag.org/papers23/paper2222.html
3.The third successful air strike of the TAF since it went into action on March 26,2007, caused considerable panic and confusion in Colombo??with power being switched off for some time by the Sri Lankan authorities. Since the small planes being used by the TAF provide very limited radar signature, the radars presently available with the Sri Lankan authorities are apparently unable to detect in time the approach of the planes??particularly when they fly very low.
4.A Shell building near Colombo caught fire following the TAF air attack, but a Government spokesman has claimed that there was no damage to the storage tanks.
5. Irasaiah Ilanthirayan, the military spokesperson of the LTTE, has claimed that the two bombings were a retaliatory strike. He added:
`We sent two squadrons to target facilities that provide fuel to military aircraft after two Sri Lankan Air Force jets bombed a suburb of Kilinochchi (inside LTTE-held territory) just past midnight.The military had bombed the outskirts of Kilinochchi, 330 kilometres (206 miles) north of the capital, using Israeli-built Kfir jets.Within an hour of the Sri Lankan war planes carrying out the attack, we scrambled `two squadrons` to attack targets in Colombo and returned to their secret location two hours later.`
6. After the air strike on the Palaly military base in the Jaffna peninsula on April 24,2007, the LTTE had indicated that it would not carry out any more air strike till the World Cup cricket final between Sri Lanka and Australia, which was played in the West Indies on the night (local Sri Lankan time) of April 28,2007, was over, to enable the people in the territory controlled by the Government and the LTTE to watch the match. There was no similar assurance from the Government. It would appear that as the people in the LTTE-controlled areas, including many leaders of the LTTE, were watching the cricket match, the SLAF mounted a night air strike at one of the points outside Kilinochi where the Sri Lankan intelligence expected some of the LTTE leaders to be watching the cricket match.
7. It is not known what damage the SLAF air strike caused and whether the LTTE leadership suffered any casualties. The fact that the TAF retaliated almost instantaneously, without worrying about any possibility of its losing an aircraft, indicates that the SLAF air strike on the cricket match watching LTTE leaders and cadres might have caused some serious casualties. Hence the rage of the LTTE and its immediate retaliation. No details of the casualties or damage in the Kilinochi raid are available so far.